CALM at Heart: Awakening

CALM supporters stand up loud and proud to give financial support to the nonprofit at this week's luncheon. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

CALM supporters stand up loud and proud to give financial support to the nonprofit at this week’s luncheon. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A fun afternoon to celebrate and reflect on the healing work of CALM was just what the doctor ordered this week.

CALM—which is an acronym for Child Abuse Listening Mediation—takes on the critical mission to prevent, assess, and treat child abuse in Santa Barbara County. The nonprofit provides comprehensive services for children, families and adults, and has done so since its inception in 1970.

Celebrating this organization at the beautiful Coral Casino was a heartwarming affair. K-LITE’s Catherine Remak served as master of ceremonies, introducing a new video highlighting the organization’s work throughout the county, with offices in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc providing prevention and early intervention programs, treatment programs and clinicians who work closely with individuals, families, teachers, administrators and law enforcement.

The theme was an afternoon of mindfulness, and it truly was.

Images of CALM at Heart: Awakening event at the Coral Casino. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Images of CALM at Heart: Awakening event at the Coral Casino. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

CALM staff members spoke from personal experience about their prevention programs across Santa Barbara County help parents and children heal from their traumatic pasts. CALM Chief Executive Officer Alana Walczak gave a moving presentation about the importance of being there and being leaders for our community’s most vulnerable people. Jennifer Freed, PhD, co-founder of AHA! (a local nonprofit committed to transforming the world by empowering teens to create peaceful and connected communities), was the keynote speaker, focusing on mindfulness practices.

CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children. CALM continues to be the only nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs. CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, non-judgmental, caring, and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well being. For more information about all of CALM’s services, please call 805/965-2376, or visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 11, 2016.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Gold Ribbon Luncheon

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Honorees Shaun and Carla Tomson, courtesy photo.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Honorees Shaun and Carla Tomson, courtesy photo.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) celebrates its Gold Ribbon Luncheon on October 5 at the Coral Casino at Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore in Santa Barbara. The Annual Gold Ribbon Campaign, held in recognition of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, culminate at this luncheon where community members and supporters gather in support of an imperative cause—supporting children with cancer. The event also honors this year’s Gold Ribbon Luncheon Award recipients.

Andrew Firestone serves as host and honorees include  Shaun and Carla Tomson. The 2016 Santa Barbara Teen Star USA, Jackson Gillies, will perform and there will be entertainment by other youth talent.

“The heartbreak that a family that has a child diagnosed with cancer faces is unimaginable,” says Andrew Firestone. “As a father, I want to help alleviate the financial and emotional challenges that families endure. Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is one of the most critical organizations in town. Let’s bring together our generous community and raise money to help these brave families and kids.”

This year’s Heart of Gold Award recognizes a couple that has gone above and beyond in giving of their time and talent for the benefit of TBCF and the families served. Carla and Shaun Tomson’s interaction with the families, volunteers, and staff has been genuine and compassionate, demonstrating a huge heart for the cause, say TBCF representatives.

This year’s Humanitarian Award recognizes Cottage Children’s Medical Center, a group that has been dedicated to improving the human condition of TBCF families. Day in and day out, they work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of children who are battling cancer—supporting and contributing to the welfare and well-being of not only the child going through treatment, but their whole family too. The staff members of Cottage Children’s Medical Center are true advocates for youth with cancer and their families and go the extra mile in providing comfort, care, and the resources they need.

This year’s Pay-It-Forward Award recognizes the Krasnoff Family, a TBCF family who has given back to the organization by paying-it-forward. This family, despite the hardships they faced with the loss of their daughter Lexi to cancer when she was just two, have chosen to give back to TBCF by providing support to other families, sharing their personal story at events, and being advocates of the cause.

This year’s Helping Hands Award recognizes Pati Kern, an individual who has fully immersed herself in the cause for more than a decade. Kern has shown outstanding volunteerism and has participated in the inner workings of TBCF by coordinating major fundraising events and creating unique opportunities for our kids within the Moments in Time program. She has shown great support to both the staff and the families and has been a tremendous supporter of the organization ever since the day they were first introduced to her kind heart.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s September Gold Ribbon Campaign seeks to generate awareness about pediatric cancer and how it affects families; bring attention to the critical role TBCF plays in supporting Tri-County families that have a child who is battling cancer; raise funds to support TBCF’s financial, educational, and emotional support programs; and provide networks for youth with cancer and their families. The gold ribbon is the universal symbol to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. Gold represents a precious metal and the children battling cancer are precious.

The Gold Ribbon Luncheon Event Committee includes Connie Gillies, Erin Griffin, Pamela Gruen, Jamie Hansen, Kathy Kelley, Stephanie J. Noel Kirlin, Corey Lester, Monique Montgomery, Hal Price, Lacy Taylor, Michael Taylor and John Weninger.

This year, TBCF has raised $123,500 of their $300,000 goal during the Gold Ribbon Campaign. The organization is asking the community to “Go Gold” and help kids fighting cancer by making a contribution towards the Campaign. Admission tickets to the Luncheon are available for $150 and raffle tickets are $20, buy five tickets and receive the sixth ticket free! For more information, to purchase Luncheon or raffle ticket(s), or to make a donation, please visit or call 805/962-7466 today.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on September 28, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Viva la Sangria!

Peach Sangria, courtesy Ciroc Vodka

Peach Sangria, courtesy Ciroc Vodka

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Of course, nothing will ever usurp the Margarita as my Fiesta drink of choice. As I’ve written in this column before, “Margaritas are part of the DNA of Santa Barbara and—along with buying Cascarones and seeing old friends—one of my favorite ways to celebrate Old Spanish Days. My son was born on July 27, 1999 and once I got over the initial euphoria, the first thing I wanted to do was drink a Margarita. After all, it was Fiesta time and that’s how we do it around here.”

But, as I’ve learned—the hard way—there is such a thing as too many Margaritas. That’s where Sangria comes in. This Spanish/Portuguese libation takes many forms.

The most common Sangrias consist of red wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy, vodka or some other spirit. The beauty of a drink like this is that less expensive wines work well, and the chopped fruit can include almost anything you have around. Oranges, lemons, limes, apples, peaches, melons of all types, berries, pineapples, grapes and mangos are all good. Frozen berries work especially well, and you can substitute Sprite or 7 Up or Lemon Lime for the spirits if you want a lighter cocktail.

Sangria is pretty widely available in the summer. For example, the Coral Cafe & Bar at the Coral Casino has a Skinny Superfruit Sangria that is magically under 125 calories (made with Veev Acaí, Cranberry Juice, Red Wine and Strawberry Puree). Finch & Fork at the Canary Hotel offers a $20 “Sangria & Bites” happy hour special with a pitcher of red or white sangria and three bites to share: warm citrus marinated olives, blistered shishito peppers and honey roasted spiced nuts. Alcazar on the Mesa also has a nice Sangria happy hour special.Strawberry

I particularly like the white sangria, also known as Sangria Blanca, made with white wine. The Latin Kitchen has a nice recipe here.

Also becoming popular are versions that forgo wine entirely. One of my favorite variations in that category is a Peach Sangria. Here’s a recipe from CÎROC Vodka, which is incidentally made from French grapes, rather than the traditional grain alcohol:

Peach Sangria

(Pitcher Recipe)

10 oz CÎROC Peach

5 oz Hennessy

5 oz Fresh Lime Juice

5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice 5

1 oz Simple Syrup

40 Dashes Bitters

20 oz Club Soda

Stir over ice in 64 oz pitcher


(Single Cocktail)

1 oz CÎROC Peach

.5 oz Hennessy

.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice

.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

.5 oz Simple Syrup

4 Dashes Bitters

2 oz Club Soda

Stir over ice in Wine Glass

With that I’ll leave you with this Fiesta-flavored video from CÎROC partner/brand ambassador Sean Combs.

Viva la Sangria!


Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on August 1, 2014.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”